Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Value of an Education and College Degree

The Value of an Education

How a Degree at SFI Increases Your Earning Potential

By Gail Benzler

There is no better investment in your future than a college degree. In today's job marketplace and economy, the value of a degree in terms of opportunity and actual earnings over the course of a career are exponentially great. The almost $700 billion film industry is no exception. 

The United States Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) really brings the differences in earning power between those with a degree and those without stunningly into focus. Their study said, "These findings indicate that workers with college degrees earn significantly more than those without; they also emphasize how lower education levels tend to correspond with higher unemployment rates. In 2015, adults with bachelor's degrees took home more than those with high school diplomas. Degree holders earned $48,500 a year, while diploma holders earned $23,900." These statistics are for those just entering the job market.

Bachelor degree holders can expect to make a stunning 84% more than non-degree holders -- we're talking of millions of dollars over your career lifetime.

What does all of this mean for you?

The best way to enter the job market -- and again, the film industry is no different -- is to be well prepared. Here at Seattle Film Institute, we are known for providing each and every one of our students the very best training and education to prepare them for successful careers in film. As a fully-accredited degree-granting institution, we take pride in our unique programming, hands-on, collaborative studio environment, expert faculty of film professionals and passion for the industry.

You'll leave SFI with that Certificate, BA or graduate degree (we have an over 94% completion rate, shattering state and national completion averages). What's more, you'll take advantage of our industry-leading job placement and internship programs. Award-winning curriculum, a degree, job training and placement? You get it all right here.

In addition, we've got access to the best financial aid options, including Title IV federal funding streams, grants, scholarships, veterans and military benefits and much more.

There truly aren't any barriers -- you can get that degree, train for a top career in a field you love and get to work in a field with high earning potential.

Fall classes begin in September and we'll help walk you through every step of the enrollment and financial aid process. Download our course catalog.

To start, attend our College and Career Planning Day, Saturday, June 25 at our campus/studio. It all begins at 11 a.m. Or, schedule a personal tour of our school. 

Contact Chris 
Call: 206.568.4387

Sunday, May 8, 2016

POV: Jeff Salazar on Acting - The Table Read

POV: Jeff Salazar on Acting

The Table Read
One important aspect of creative development is the Table Read.  This form of exploration is used throughout many different mediums and has been a great source of creative development for characters and writers alike.  Seeing it as a professional use of time is one of the best ways to discover where your character needs to go within the script.
That being said, it is always best to come prepared for the table read, and view this as a learning experience.  The answers do need to be known prior, but afterwards you can find yourself closer to the destination.  So how do we prepare for a collaborative event?  
Read The Material 
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes these things need to be said.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been surrounded by actors who hadn’t read the script prior to the table-read.  The common excuse is that they thought they’d read it at the table with everyone, making discoveries in the moment.  Acting is an interpretive art, and should be taken as such.  If the script is provided, read it ASAP.  The director hired you (hopefully) for your creative input, and wants to hear your interpretation of the writing and where you think the character is going, not the other way around.  A great film is made in communion with others.  If you need a director to tell you every action and reaction, then that is not acting….that is imitating.  Interpret your character and make decisions prior to the table-read, bring those decisions to the table and dissect them, make refinements, and move forward!
Analysis Paralysis
This is a term commonly used in the business world for someone who thinks too much, needing every answer prior to moving forward for fear of failing.  Don’t be afraid to fail, for failing is the First Action In Learning.  
Something one of our teachers here said recently was “The question is more important than the answer”.  This means so much more than it sounds, and puts a different spin on character exploration.  
It is easy to give an answer to a question and just “be done with it”, however, asking the question and not knowing the answer can pay off in dividends for character development.  It shows that the actor is truly discovering new things about the character they’re trying to develop.  Knowing all of the answers prior to the question being asking is a dangerous slope of negative progression.  Allows yourself to be inquisitive and shapeable.
Ideas Are Good!
Bring them! Bring them all!  A table read, as mentioned before in this article, is a collaborative session of like-minded individuals looking to tell a story.  If you feel an element is missing, or can be added for the benefit of the story, don’t be afraid to pitch it! On the flip side of that coin, don’t be afraid of rejection either.  
There are as many different kinds of directors as there are people in this world.  Everyone is different, and may or may not take your ideas well.  However, that should never stop you from adding your creative thoughts to the table.  If you feel your idea should be saved for a one-on-one conversation with the director, then make that choice, but don’t sit idly as a good idea walks by.  
Sometimes suggestions come from confusion, thus bringing us back to asking the questions needed for character development.  Ask those questions, and be curious. Take risks, and have fun with your new team, for that is what film is all about: telling stories as a team for the benefit of our society. 

I know I have given you all a lot to think about.  Be sure to leave any questions or comments below and keep us posted on your progress.  Stay safe, live truthfully, and I will see you on the other side!

Friday, April 15, 2016

SFI Extension Classes Fit Your Schedule and Budget

Extension classes start April 18.

Check out our open-enrollment courses. If you're interested in filmmaking, these are the classes for you. Our extension classes are offered in the evening, so they fit into your busy schedule. What are you waiting for? Sign up now.

Check out these classes beginning in April: 

Nuts and Bolts of Screenwriting - $645
8 Mondays, beginning April 18
Nuts and Bolts of Screenwriting lays the groundwork for screenplay writing by providing students with a total immersion in script structure and the craft of writing for the screen. Learn more and register

Digital Editing with Adobe Premiere Pro: Intro - $225
3 Tuesdays, beginning April 19
Covering the specific workings of Adobe Premiere Creative Cloud, this class also provides a general grounding in nonlinear digital editingLearn more and register

Fundamentals of Filmmaking - $695
Introduction to Film Production
8 Thursdays, beginning April 21
This class provides students with a practical and comprehensive grounding in film production including lighting, camera, composition, audio, and editing. Learn more and register

The Evolution and Flow of Producing - $645
8 Tuesdays, beginning April 26
This intensive 8-session seminar answers those questions by providing a nuts-and-bolts “how to” on producing a film, from A to Z. Learn more and register

Additional Extension Classes

Monday, April 11, 2016

POV: On Acting - A Walk into Possibilities

Point of View: On Acting

A walk into Possibilities
By Jeff Salazar

As performers, we are called upon to tell a compelling story. We are asked to live truthfully to the given circumstances and to show a side of the human condition that is seamless and real.   

This is easier said than done.

So, how do we give in to the character’s circumstances and live in front of the camera as if these situations were real? Opening the possibility for real emotions and reactions is a crucial step in truly connecting to the character that is written on the page. 

This week, we focused on the movement of acting and giving in to the moment.  We have been exploring the Tadashi Suzuki approach to body movements and acting techniques.  Through these practices we have been able to advance our understanding of the given circumstance and succumb to the inner feelings and thoughts behind each character.   

Suzuki Walks  

There are eight key walking techniques behind this approach to body movement.  Each one provides a different view into the complexity of each trait/quality of a character you are trying to embody.  Here are the walks on which we focused:
  • Pigeon 
  • Bicycle 
  • Broom 
  • Tip-Toe 
  • Side-Step 
  • Cross-Side-Step 
  • Slide Step 
  • Kabuki Shuffle
You can view a pretty good representation of these walks in this video, Ten Ways of Walking.

The walks above look rigid and very restricting on movement, but ,once properly practiced you can find a soft peace that radiates through you during your performance.  The art of acting comes from creating a seamless performance, helping the audience to suspend their disbelief. These walks are intended to create a sense of balance within the actor, preparing you for anything that might come about.  Since our job during a performance is to reflect life in motion as if it was happening for the first time, these walks are excellent ways to practice.   

The Possibility 

Now for the hard part.  So often in performance, we find that the mind can focus inward.  One of our instructors, Michael Place, asked us to envision the “arrows of attention” (the fictional arrows that can point inward when feeling insecure) and try to point them away from ourselves.  This is something easier said than done, especially during a performance.   

It’s a help to focus completely on your scene partner. The person you are working with — whether you are performing or practicing — should be the only one who has your attention; not the audience, not the mirror in the back of the room, not even your girlfriend in the back row.  Since your performance encompasses the other person and their reaction to your words, it is good to keep them in your sights.  This will create a true performance of real reactions, instead of what is dictated on the page of your script.   

The possibility of emotion comes from enveloping the words and allowing them to affect you.  Think of what is being said, and how it will make the other feel.  The given circumstances of a situation can speak louder than the words, even if there is nothing being said.  A true performance comes from within when you are focusing outward and never the other way around. 

I know I have given you all a lot to think about.  Be sure to leave any questions or comments below and keep us posted on your progress.  Stay safe, live truthfully and I will see you on the other side! 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Point of View: How to Make Your Audition Monologue Come Alive

Point of View: On Acting

How to Make Your Audition Monologue Come Alive
By Jeff Salazar

The Monologue  
The monologue is one of the most important tools in an actor’s arsenal.  The actors monologue can help land some major jobs and propel their career to new heights.  Here are some tips for not only choosing a monologue, but preparing and presenting one as well.  
Keep it Short  
When I say short, I truly mean one to two minutes, max. Most casting directors and agents are not willing to sit through anything longer.  You need to show the character’s arc, your ability to portray a wide range of emotions and deliver a message that is truly meaningful.  Staying within the one to two minute time range will gain you points with the decision makers and hold their attention. 
Choose Wisely  
The source of your monologue is just as important as the monologue itself.  Don’t limit yourself to one that has been done by an iconic character and is well known. If you were to perform the iconic TAXI DRIVER monologue, for example, it would be nearly impossible for a casting director to see you performing rather than Robert De Niro. Also, I urge you to look into plays. It’s easy to find a resource for good play dialogue here in Seattle.  Start at your local library — the downtown branch has an amazing selection of scripts. This source has proven to be my go-to; it helped me at the beginning of my career as an actor and I still use the library today. 
Recognize the Author  
This is another important thing to remember when delivering the monologue.  While this is a small factor — and one which can be overlooked on both sides of the table — it shows credit to those that write the words and gives you credit as a professional actor.  Anyone can do a monologue that they saw in once in a movie, but a true actor reads the words from the script and interprets these words for themselves.   No one wants to see you do an impersonation of what a famous actor has already done. Casting directors and agents want to see your artistic interpretation come forth, giving life to the character.  This shows them that you will apply the same tools towards their character when you book the job! 

When slating your monologue, instead of saying, “I’ll be doing a piece from The Wolf of Wall Street” (which everyone has seen and knows so well), try saying, “I’ll be doing a piece by Terence Winter”.  This will give some originality to your piece and take the audience’s mind off of Leonardo Dicaprio and back onto you.  
Always remember to breathe and give life to your character.  You are focusing on getting the job, but the job depends on your truth to the character’s life and the performance should reflect that.    
Stay safe, have a great week, and I’ll see you on the other side!  


Thursday, March 10, 2016

POV -- Jeff Salazar on Acting (Live the Victory)

You won't want to miss the latest installment in our POV series. This week, our acting student Jeff Salazar returns with his ideas on authenticity in the creative process.

Live the Victory
By Jeff Salazar

So often we are confronted with the aspect of the “self."  Our minds start running and voices begin to question our everyday actions.  This is even more true for the actor, for standing in front of your peers/audience can be nerve-racking and potentially disturbing (depending on the person).  Yet as these ideas of the self occur and begin to destroy the creative process, something to keep in mind how to tell the story truthfully.

It is easy to forget that acting is a form of storytelling, one of the more crucial parts in fact.  As the face of the story it is our job to embody the character and tell the story as if we were experiencing it for the first time. Never forget this fact, and always keep it at the forefront of your mind.

Live the Victory
“You cannot live a victory that you have not experience yet. Play the circumstances as if it were the first time without knowing the results."  These were the words used by one of our teachers here at Seattle Film Institute during our Text Analysis class with world-renowned director Hal Ryder (  What this statement means is that one must experience your objectives within a scene as if it were the first time happening.  As actors, we must look passed the scripted words and outcomes that we know happen within the dialogue and portray an emotion that is true to the word.  Living in the moment is key to accomplish this, and being true to your self, the character’s self and how they see themselves.

Forget the Self
Standing up in front of an audience is a courageous act that should be applauded and respected.  However, doing this also requires a sense of humility from the actor.  Many actors that I have come across in my experience believe that by being an actor means that the audience wants to see them act.  This cannot be further from the truth.  As actors we must forget the identity of the “self” that we bring into the room prior to a performance.  Through doing this we allow our bodies and minds to unlock and perform to the true identity of the character, rather than worry about our personal image. 

Develop Your Ideas with Great Finesse
In the creative process many ideas are tossed in and out of the “drawing table”.  A great idea is not developed in one take, nor is it usually the first thing that comes about.  Great ideas are harnessed through the creative process that allows failure and success to coexist.  Allow yourself to present an idea to the director and never take it as a “defeat” if the idea is rejected or re-worked. This is an essential part of content development, yet it is the most over-looked.

By keeping these focus points in mind, you will be able to embody the character as intended from the playwright/screenwriter.  

Remember: people want to see characters living, not somebody acting.

Until next week...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

POV - Jeff Salazar on Acting (Bonus - The Power of Choice, Pt. 2)

Sometimes getting what you want means sacrifice and an uncompromising focus on your ultimate goal.

Our acting student blogger Jeff Salazar and his wife had to make some important -- and life changing -- decisions when they agreed Jeff should pursue his dream of an acting degree here at SFI.  Jeff wasn't deterred. Read on to see how perseverance paid off for Jeff and his family.

Read more about how The Power of Choice is in your hands as Jeff applies this principle to his career and studies at SFI.

The Power of Choice (Bonus)
By Jeff Salazar

The date was set, and my enrollment was complete.  After making my calls to the Seattle Film Institute, I was accepted and I was set to begin my class instruction the following term.  But the time lag between my enrollment and start date was approximately 4-months, and my hunger for developing the craft has already set in.

My wife and I began making preparations for this transition.  After telling her what my intentions for education was, she was surprisingly accepting of the switch.  Following one’s passion cannot lead you astray, and we believe in this firmly.  Without passion, there cannot be growth and progress.  Following this belief, we decided to cut down our life significantly.  Upon enrollment we lived in a fairly large house overlooking the Puget Sound in suburb of Tacoma called University Place.  It is a wonderful city, and filled with enriching activities, however, this is not a city for the student-budget.  The cost of living is similar to downtown Seattle and we needed to make some serious adjustments to our cost outputs.

In order to keep the house and maintain a stasis of living situation we decided to find applicable renters that could make the payments for the house and fill it with a family and positive energy.  After finding the proper family to occupy the house, we went searching for a home that would fit our needs.  House after house showed us that prospects were pretty slim in our local area, forcing us to search outside the manageable boundaries of what could be considered a “reasonable” commute.  

After searching for weeks and not finding a house that would fit our needs, inspiration struck us and redefined our meaning of what a home really was.  Spending so much time away from my family serving in the military allowed me to look into the key aspects of how to live happily with someone else. “Surely”, I thought to myself, “the experiences I have been through have been much worse, and all I need is to stay warm and dry”.  

Thinking outside the box, and as extreme as this sounds, I started looking into Recreational Vehicles (RV) for consideration.  Yes, I know, very drastic.  

We settled on a 25-foot Winnebago Warrior, and it is just that: A Warrior.  We purchased this beast for a very reasonable price and it has been our primary residence for the last 8-months.  In continuing the outside the box, we got creative with our living situation a little further by finding free places to park with free power, water, and sewer.  This allowed us to save dramatically and enabled us to thrive in the Seattle Area.

This small excerpt from my personal story follows along with the theme of this article and is a vital attribute of the working actor: Making Choices.  This seems like a small detail, but it can spell the difference between a good performance and a great performance.